With the publication of her first collection of short stories in 1975, Patricia Grace became the first wahine Maori to achieve such an outcome... and the rest, as they say, is history. From short stories to novels to children's books, over the decades that have followed she has continued to enrich and expand New Zealand literature.
In this unadorned memoir, this award-winning author humbly relates the story of her life against the backdrop of a changing society: from her birth to a Pakeha mother and Maori father, her childhood through to her training as a teacher, marriage, motherhood and at its centre, her writing, her whanau, her whenua. [Larger font]
This title is also offered as part of the Narrative Muse Book Club.
View this title on the Narrative Muse website
On the whole the group's opinion of the book was 'a disappointing read'. Everyone enjoyed the beginning but then it seemed to run out of steam. The end became a little tedious and seemed to divert from Grace's own life. There appeared little acknowledgement of Grace's European background, and seemed to centre only on her Maori ethnicity. This book was disappointing for those who had enjoyed her previous books.
The book evoked memories for the majority of the book group. Many were familiar with other books written by Patricia Grace. All found it very easy to read - a popular choice.
Everyone enjoyed this book.
We all very much enjoyed it. We liked the modest, unpretentious tone, and authenticity.
Some of our group found it a bit difficult to get started but with encouragement from others were really pleased they persevered. The teachers amongst us read with interest the descriptions of schooling, teachers expectations of Patricia and the impact this can have on our young people today. A fascinating insight into Patricias life.
Everyone was pleased to have read 'From the Centre'. Patricia's memories of her childhood brought forth great discussion re similar experiences. Ideas came forward as to how one would write their own memoir! Historic facts were also of interest. It seemed pertinent that last month's book was 'Jerningham', which also discussed our Colonial history. We recommend 'From the Centre'. The notes were useful.
What a great book about growing up in New Zealand, with all the history and being Maori. Great insight into Patricia's life and the writing of all her great stories and books. Thank you!
Lots of interesting discussion, very relevant to these times. We felt Patricia Grace's fiction writing style is more successful than her non-fiction.
Those that had read her books really enjoyed finding out more about her life. We could relate to her Kiwi upbringing.
Enjoyed the insights into New Zealand race relations in the twentieth century. Admired the tenacity of Patricia Grace and her quiet, yet determined manner.
Patricia Grace's memoir reads well as a record of life in postwar N.Z. - giving insight into the education system, life growing up in the suburbs, racism, and the development of the urban marae. The joy of reading a N.Z. memoir is the shared experiences of the writer and the reader and our group experienced this, particularly the teacher training. We felt we now know what Patricia Grace did, but we don't know much more of who she is and what she feels. Her very private person is maintained. A very subtle, nuanced memoir.
Most really enjoyed the book and the discussion questions.
A very much enjoyed book, and great discussion as a consequence re early experiences at school, racism; the enjoyment of communal whanu living; her perseverance and description of how she came to be the writer she is.
Unanimous '4' from everyone. Provided a great discussion about racial and political issues. We loved her understated and gracious viewpoint. Strong recommendation for all NZ'ers to read.
Fascinating account of a bicultural life - so understated and subtle. One often had to read between the lines. All the group enjoyed 'From the Centre' and it raised a myriad of discussion points.
All of us are familiar with Patricia Grace's books and really enjoyed reading about her life. We especially appreciated the great insight into the experience of Maori growing up in N.Z. and the issues that people face.
Most people in the group really enjoyed it. A wonderful insight to a Maori upbringing and lived life. Such determination in building a thoroughly authentic meeting house and Marae. Patricia touches on the prejudice she experienced but she also does not appear to be bitter.
Only 2 in the group read it. Most of us attempted but found the content too much of everyday (however this appealed to those that did read it). Had expected more.